The day began at 6:00 a.m. with Family Foundation staff and activists on both sides of the abortion issue standing outside in a line — during a tornado watch with pouring rain and lightning — waiting to get into the Virginia Board of Health meeting. It ended shortly after noon when the Board, on an 11-2 vote, made permanent the emergency and temporary abortion center health and safety standards. Today marks a major victory for the pro-life movement in Virginia as well as a remarkable step forward for the wellbeing of women in the Commonwealth. Today's story actually began yesterday when The Family Foundation obtained documents from the Virginia Department of Health that indicated continued widespread health and safety violations at Virginia abortion centers and widespread failure to fulfill plans of correction for earlier found deficiencies. At one facility, Virginia law concerning parental consent and an ultrasound requirement was broken numerous times. The startling findings included:

» The exam room of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia had a small bin where examination instruments were placed, which was filled with water and had a dead insect floating inside;

» Dried blood was found on the exam light in the procedure room at Richmond Medical Center for Women;

» Three of four patients having an abortion at Roanoke Medical Center for Women on December 18 were minors with no evidence of parental consent in their record;

» Dried blood on a chair in the recovery room at NOVA Women’s Healthcare; and

» No documentation at Alexandria Women's Health Clinic that tis three abortion doctors have valid and current medical licenses, let alone the experience and qualifications required to perform abortions.

These reports from the unannounced, follow-up inspections of abortion centers continued to show dozens and dozens of deficiencies — some even worse than before. Even after submitting plans to correct deficiencies, Virginia abortion centers have not chosen to do so. The Board owed it to the people of Virginia — the women of Virginia — to protect the health and safety of Virginians.

At 9:00, in front of a packed board room as well as an adjacent overflow room, the Board of Health meeting began with staff reports, followed by a public comment period that lasted one hour. (Click here to view pictures of the meeting and pro-abortion activists acting up).

Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), chairman of the Senate Education and Health committee, spoke first. He encouraged the Board to pass the regulations affirming that as drafted they fulfilled the legislative intent of the General Assembly. Numerous abortion supporters followed — many taking on a satirical tone, insulting the Board and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and suggesting that those with religious (i.e., Christian) beliefs should not be allowed to voice their opinion.

Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb testified revealing the results of the inspections released yesterday. Other pro-life organizations that testified included the Virginia Catholic Conference, Concerned Women for America, and the Jubilee Project, a pro-life public interest law firm. Other groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom, had submitted public comment.

After the comment period, Board members James Edmondson and Ana Jeng attempted to postpone the vote until the Attorney General's office could submit an opinion as to whether the requirement to file an economic impact statement on existing abortion centers was met (since they qualify as small businesses) and for the Department of Health staff to draw up alternative options for those facilities. After that failed, the pair introduced, and seconded, an amendment to grandfather the standards for existing abortion centers, so that they would not be required to meet the structural requirements mandated in the regulations. Each motion failed on votes of 11-2.

The Board was reminded by its staff attorney that, in fact, there was an economic impact statement filed, and located it for them in their briefing books in case they had not read it. She then reiterated that the Board had considered alternatives to the structural requirements las June, but the Attorney General would not certify them because they did not rise to the requirements of the law passed by the General Assembly.

Board member Amy Vest struck down any chance of passage of the grandfather amendment may have had by telling the Board that she recently scheduled a walk-through of an abortion center in her area and was disappointed by the health and safety risks she encountered (creaky stairs that would likely not hold the weight of EMS personnel; inadequate recovery areas for patients who had to walk there themselves; sinks that would not allow space for proper medical hand-washing techniques; and hallways that would not accommodate a gurney in the case of an emergency.

The vote on passage was finally called for and in an overwhelming 11-2 margin, the regulations were finalized. While pro-life attendees applauded and gave thanks, abortion advocates jumped to their feet, chanting, "You have blood on your hands!" and held up signs bearing Cuccinelli's face. Some had covered their hands in fake blood and waved their hands in the air. A man belted out a dirge about refusing to be overcome, causing him to be removed by the police. Security was eventually forced to clear the room due to the disrespect of the pro-abortion activists, who were more protestors than advocates, many of whom, during the comment period, threatened numerous types of actions to come.

Regardless of the pro-abortion antics, the regulations have passed and a significant victory was won for women and children of the Commonwealth. Gratitude goes to the 11 Board members who voted in favor of the regulations. Additionally, we would like to thank the state and federal pro-life organizations for their tireless support and all our loyal supporters who have sacrificed their time over the past two years writing comments to the Board, speaking during public comment periods, and showing up at the meetings to pray for and support the Board. Today is a good day for the health and safety of women and children in Virginia.